The complete series comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Mill Creek

In the late 2000s TV comedy started to embrace an absurdist slant, with shows like Parks & Recreation, My Name is Earl, Community, and 30 Rock, blending an offbeat sensibility with sharp writing, standout casts, and a heartfelt undertone. Shows that reflected and also impact pop culture to this very day, as well as new shows that have carried the torch onward. Such is the case with the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, not only serving as a perfect vehicle for a Ellie Kemper, fresh off her success in The Office, but allowing the minds behind 30 Rock (Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) to push deeper into the whimsy they started a few years earlier.


Rescued after 15 years in a cult, Kimmy Schmidt decides to reclaim her life by venturing to New York, where she experiences everyday life with wide-eyed enthusiasm. On a whim, she rents a room from Titus, a gay wannabe Broadway actor, who makes ends meet as a street performer in Times Square. The unlikely pair find they’re well-suited to help each other out, with Titus reintroducing Kimmy to modern life, and her providing him with the inspiration that you should never give up. Together they’ll make it through whatever life throws at them.

So much comedy is born of darkness, you have to laugh otherwise you’ll cry, right? But taking the simple tale of UKS in isolation, you have to question whether the show was hamstringing itself from the off with such a bleak premise. A young girl from Indiana, snatched off the street by self-styled Reverend Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), is taken into a underground bunker whereupon she and 3 others are convinced the apocalypse has taken place and they must remain below, safe in his care and companionship. Freed after 15 years of captivity, she emerges, and sets out for New York looking to catch up with the modern world, and find her place in it. So it’s essentially a cross between Room and Blast from the Past.

Kimmy is a soul brimming with positivity and gratitude. Her hope and whimsy sweeps the show along, and that contrast to her traumatic past is key to its appeal. The show leans HARD into the absurdity of it all, especially the fish out of water angle, and reinforces it by surrounding her with characters bringing an equal amount of baggage and quirks. The tragedy and trauma of what she went through is never entirely swept away, while the show also tackles world re-entry issues, internet celebrity & viral fame, opioid addiction, far-left/far-right politics, gentrification, and even #MeToo/#TimesUp (#Hashbrowns). The show veers from affecting to abstract, somber to surreal, while continually firing gags in your direction.

Ellie Kemper is the driving force for the show, and you cannot imagine anyone else in the role able to bring the same joy and energy. Actor/singer Tituss Burgess crafts a comedy icon in Titus Andromedon, a flamboyant, aspiring actor whose eccentricities outweigh those of a emotionally underdeveloped woman who spent 15 years of her life trapped with a cult. An episode centered around his efforts to join the cast of Cats is a standout, taking on greater meaning in our current cinematic times. Carol Kane (Annie Hall, The Princess Bride) as batty landlady Lillian and Jane Krakowski as Kimmy’s self-absorbed employer (as a nanny) Jacqueline White, a wealthy divorcee, round out the cast, and each feels like they were born for their roles. They’re backed up by scores of kooky characters, many of which recur through the series. Fred Armisen, Amy Sedaris, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph (as an amazing Dionne Warwick), Laura Dern, Bobby Moynihan, Greg Kinnear, and even Tina Fey herself, to name but a few. Everyone who pops up, whether a regular, a recurring character, or a one off, is clearly having a ball.

The show ran for 4 seasons, which was probably enough. The blissful ignorance of these characters was key to the show’s hook, and at a certain point, that veil of entertaining delusion had to be lifted. The fourth and final season brought some of the hints of growth to the fore, and gave them each a fitting sendoff. Some of the ideas and themes in the final season didn’t feel properly developed, coming across more like pot shots instead. But much of it was in the vein of what came before. There was a “Sliding Doors” episode that is not just one of the best in the show’s run, but shows how far these characters have come, and how important they have been to each other, alongside Kimmy’s indefatigable determination to make the world a better place.

The Package

Mill Creek brings the entire Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series to Blu-ray, with all 51 episodes (4 seasons) spread over 8 discs. The visual presentation is solid, with vibrant colors, fine detail and texture. There are some artifacts evident, typically in busier outdoor scenes, but nothing too egregious. Sadly the release contains no extra features; all you’re getting is 25 hours and 14 minutes of pure Kimmy.

The Bottom Line

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt skims the surface of trauma while embracing a quirky and absurdist sensibility. Even when the jokes fall flat, the sheer exuberance and charm of Kemper keeps things moving forward. If you’ve been trapped in a bunker for the past 15 years, this release from Mill Creek is the perfect way to catch up with this irreverent comedy.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt the Complete Series is available now from Mill Creek Entertainment.

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